These are raw yellow, white and red onions from the Mexican state of Chihuahua that are being recalled due to the possible presence of salmonella. In particular, they have been sold in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and may have been distributed in other provinces and territories.
definitively a major recall, given the number of contaminations, says University of Guelph food science professor Keith Warriner. 650 American consumers infected with salmonella have been identified by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). No cases have been reported in Canada at this time.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is currently conducting a food safety investigation of other possible importers, which may result in the recall of other products.
Because onions have a long shelf life and are used often, one can imagine that there will be this kind of continued addition to the list of products that need to be recalled., explains Mr. Warriner.
Why are some onions contaminated?
Foods affected by recalls are often products eaten raw, such as onions and salad.
Often, what happens is that there will be cattle or animal production near the market garden fields. […] and salmonella or bacteria E. coli will transfer to these, explains Sylvain Charlebois, professor of distribution and agrifood policies at Dalhousie University.
It is animal manure that contaminates the water and the pathogen will infect different fields., he specifies.
Occasionally [certains producteurs vont] even irrigate some fields with water that has been contaminated with animal droppings, adds Mr. Charlebois.
Precautions to be taken
Keith Warriner advises consumers not to eat raw onions and treat them as if they were chicken.
Have a separate cutting board, wash your hands, and warm your onions to kill salmonella, he said.
Salmonellosis is a serious and potentially fatal illness in young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
In healthy people,
salmonellosis can present with short-lived symptoms such as fever, headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to’CFIA .
A tarnished reputation
According to Sylvain Charlebois, the series of recalls will cause some people to avoid buying onions.
This is the second year in a row that we have seen a recall of onions. This is not a good thing for the reputation of onions in general., notes the expert.
It is the reputation of the onion that is affected, he said.
What is a shame is that there are onion importers in Canada who will suffer, as much as the importers [touchés par ce rappel], thinks M. Charlebois.
Onions are one of the five most popular items in the produce section, he recalls.
According to the two food specialists, we must trace the contamination faster and find better ways to communicate directly with consumers.
Recalls in progress
In Canada, recalls affect brand name onions Dorsey, MVP, Pier-C, Riga Farms, Goodfood and Gwillimdale Farms, among others.
The recall is likely to be extended nationwide. Unfortunately, there will be waste as usual and the prices will probably increase for these products., adds Sylvain Charlebois.
This recall stems from another recall in the United States (New window) by Prosource Produce LLC based in Hailey, Idaho.
In addition to being present in grocery stores, these onions could be found in hotels, restaurants, cafeterias and hospitals, according to theCFIA.
These foods should be discarded or returned to the establishment where they were purchased.
With information from Stella Dupuy